Learn English – Is it “in” or “on” HNQ


Stack Exchange has a special feature that displays the hottest questions from its 170 or more sites across the network, it's called Hot Network Questions or HNQ for short.

Most users will see to their right a short list of “hot” questions but HNQ also has its own page, which complicates things a little, so do the most popular/highest rated questions go on or in HNQ? Do they appear in or on a list?

a question appearing on/in HNQ
a question was on/in HNQ
questions listed in/on HNQ
questions can linger in/on HNQ

I searched the following words on in list preposition in the EL&U archives and this post turned up
When should I use "in" or "on"? the accepted answer said

For my dialect, it's: "good luck on" and "on the list".

Does Alan Hogue's answer suggest there are no fundamental differences?
Are there any differences in usage between American and British English?

Best Answer

Flipping over to Google Ngram it appears that in the list and on the list are used fairly equally with little difference between BrE and AmE.

Myself, as a BrE user, I would speak of items in the HNQ list that is on the HNQ page.

One of the problems with prepositions is that they are polysemous, some argue so polysemous that they effectively have no meaning - delexicalised - and others (I remember Lakoff being one) suggested a 'prototypes' approach in which each preposition has some core characteristic that is present in all uses. Lindstromberg tried to apply this to 'on' and concluded that he couldn't even begin to find a core characteristic that would embrace both "on the table" and "the car sped on".

Despite this, I think the prototype idea has merit. In a box and in trouble both suggest being surrounded, and so does in a list. Yet people do say on the guest list and on the no fly list. Both of these seem to be connected with permission, either granting it or refusing it. Maybe it is taking in a sense of 'invitation' (or 'anti-invitation', whatever one of those is called), so a name is on the invitation as in printed on its surface, or on a ticket, and this is being transferred to on a list if that list gives or refuses permission to enter.